Esty Bill to Expand Brownfields Redevelopment Passes Committee, Set for House Floor Vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Brownfields Reauthorization Act, a bipartisan bill authored by Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and John Katko (R-NY), passed unanimously out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today, setting up the legislation for a House floor vote. Esty is the Vice Ranking Member of the Committee.
The Brownfields Reauthorization Act would reauthorize and improve the Brownfields Program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helps communities revitalize neighborhoods and spur economic development through brownfields assessment and remediation.
“Cities and towns across Connecticut have hundreds of acres of abandoned industrial sites that are just waiting to be cleaned up and put back onto the tax rolls,” Esty said. “Passing the Brownfields Reauthorization Act will help our communities turn these blighted properties into real assets – with new businesses and open space. In fact, cleaning up brownfields is the ultimate recycling – recycling of land. Every acre of Brownfields redevelopment creates approximately 10 jobs, so cleaning up and repurposing these sites is truly one of the best investments we can make. Today’s bipartisan passage through the committee is an important step forward. By passing this bill, we can boost jobs and clean up the environment across Connecticut and across the United States.”
“The brownfields program has a proven record of success – assisting States and communities in the redevelopment of abandoned or underutilized properties and leveraging Federal seed money with State, local, and private dollars to create jobs,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and an original cosponsor of the legislation. “This Congress, and last, we heard from mayors, state agencies, and other stakeholders in Subcommittee hearings on the critical importance of the brownfields program. I applaud Committee Vice Ranking Member Elizabeth Esty for taking the lead on this important bipartisan legislation. I am pleased to support it.”
Brownfields are segments of land that were once used for industrial purposes or commercial use. Many times, this land becomes contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution, and requires environmental remediation. Originally authorized in 2002, the EPA’s Brownfield Program empowers states, communities, and stakeholders to assess, clean up, and redevelop these sites. However, the program was allowed to expire in 2006, though it has continued to receive nominal funding.
The Brownfields Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the EPA Brownfields program through Fiscal Year 2022, at a rate of $200 million per year, with an additional $50 million for the state response program annually. It would also increase the cleanup grant amount from $200,000 to $600,000, as well as expand eligibility requirements to certain nonprofits, limited liability corporations, limited partnerships, and community development entities.
The Brownfields Reauthorization Act would also benefit Area-Wide Revitalization Planning Grants, which are commonly used by communities when creating long-term remediation plans for brownfield sites. These grants assist communities assess a site and the state of its infrastructure, determine the level of investment needed, and identify private and public resources available at the local and federal level while keeping current and future markets in mind. Planning Grants oftentimes expedite the time frame between the assessment and cleanup of a brownfield site.
It is estimated that there are over 450,000 brownfield sites across the country, with at least one brownfield site in every congressional district. Of these sites, 59,000 areas have been remediated and revitalized. According to an EPA study, there are 66 brownfield properties throughout central and northwest Connecticut.
According to a 2007 study, every acre of brownfields redevelopment creates approximately 10 jobs. Additionally, on average, for every $1 dollar spent through the EPA’s Brownfields program leverages an average of $18 in outside investment.
Organizations endorsing the Brownfields Reauthorization Act include:
- The U.S. Conference of Mayors
- National League of Cities
- National Association of Counties
- National Association of Regional Councils
- California Association for Local Economic Development
- Center for Creative Land Recycling
- Georgia Brownfields Association
- Groundwork USA
- International Council of Shopping Centers
- Leading Builders of America
- Minnesota Brownfields
- NAIOP, Commercial Real Estate Development Association
- National Apartment Association
- National Association of Development Organizations
- National Association of Home Builders
- National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals
- National Association of Realtors
- National Brownfields Coalition
- National Ground Water Association
- National Leased Housing Association
- National Multifamily Housing Council
- Smart Growth America